August 2010
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It Can All Change In A ChartBeat

The joint is jumpin’
It’s really somethin’
The beat is pumpin’
My heart is thumpin’
Spent my money on you honey

It’s pretty addictive watching your blog stats, isn’t it? Remember when Google Analytics came to town and instead of waiting days to see traffic reports, you could see updates in mere hours. On a good day, you could sometimes see things in 15 minutes. Well, GA, there is a new new kid on the block, he shows you data in real time, and his name is chartbeat.

I’d never heard of it until last week when I was lucky enough to meet the cool folk at betaworks (@Borthwick and @aweissman). These guys don’t mess around – they’re behind such social media hits as and twitterfeed. You heard it here first – chartbeat is going to be big.

It’s really easy to get started – you just stick a couple of JavaScript tags onto all your pages a.l.a. Google Analytics, and you are done. The reports you get are much simpler than those from GA, but it is really real time. You can see the visitors on your site within a couple of seconds of their arrival. I wrote a test link bait post (sorry), tweeted it, and saw my 17 concurrent visitors within seconds.

Visitors to your site in real time. Notice one person is writing a comment. Click for large image.

But there is more. GA simply registers a hit when a page is loaded. chartbeat has a heartbeat and chats to the server every couple of seconds. This means that it can more accurately measure time spent on the site, user actions like scrolling (giving a nice scroll depth metric), and even keypresses. In the screenshot above, you’ll see one person is writing – they were leaving a comment at the time.

Typical detail page. Gotta love the scroll depth and engagement indicators

It also comes with a nice preintegration with backtype. This searches the social media buzz of the interwebs and reports activity as part of your report. When @izahoor, @theg, @irina_guseva, @cmsreport and @kevinc2003 were kind enough to retweet my horseshit blog post, I saw my dashboard get a bit busier and saw their link love appear shortly afterwards in the backtype console. Good stuff.

Nice integration with backtype. Click for large image.

It has an API and a bucket of prebuilt widgets. I haven’t had time to play with these, but I might add a widget here soon. The downside being, of course, it would pretty much always say “1 user currently viewing this page”. And that would be you.

It gets better. chartbeat even monitors the health of your site. While I was testing, my dickhead hosting company GoDaddy had yet another embolism, and my site flatlined for about 5 minutes. But unlike the previous million times this happened, it didn’t die silenty. I got a nice email from chartbeat informing me of the tragedy. Also, it tells you how long a page took to load for each user. 20 seconds isn’t great, GoDaddy. And yes, it has a free iPhone app too.

Because I’m a social media guru who understands transparancy and douchebaggery, I’ve shared my wonderful stats with the world. So have a look at my chartbeat dashboard.

You do have to pay a small fee for all this goodness, but it is money well spent. Buy it. Finally, a huge nod to @arctictony for helping me out.

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